Common Toddler Sleep Problems

baby nighttime waking

Just when you think you’ve got bedtime under control, your little one hits a milestone or some other developmental stages and all bets are off. The toddler years are full of hiccups when it comes to sleep, so I’m going to cover some of the most common toddler sleep problems today.

Early mornings

You probably thought I was going to talk about night wakings, right? You’ve seemingly conquered the nights, but then your little one starts waking early. Really early. If your toddler is getting up before the sun rises, ready to take on the day, you’re not alone.

Begin by looking at your baby’s nap schedule. It could be that your little one is getting too much sleep during the day—causing them to wake early in the morning—and they’re ready to drop a nap or have their daytime schedule tweaked.

Depending on your toddler’s age, you can use one of my favorite sleep items—the Ok to Wake! Alarm Clock and Night Light. Perfect for little ones without number knowledge, you set the clock for an acceptable wake time, and once the time comes, the clock glows green. Whatever you do, set consequences and be consistent with enforcing them—they’ll get the hang of it.

Night waking

While many of my Philadelphia area clients come to me because of infant sleep problems, night wakings can be especially shocking with toddlers. Especially when they’re historically good sleepers. Don’t panic! 

If your toddler is between 18-24 months old, night wakings could be a sign of a sleep regression, which is normal at this age. These regressions typically coincide with developmental milestones, such as language explosions and increased motor skills. Whatever the cause, the waking should cease in a week or two, and your baby should slip back into their usual routine.

Bedtime battles

One of the most common toddler sleep problems is the up-and-down routine at bedtime. First, you’ll encounter a fight to get your toddler settled in bed. Then they’ll ask for another sip of water, another book, another kiss, another hug—you get the picture. Your toddler’s increasing independence means they’re going to be testing boundaries, and bedtime is one of them.

After the reluctance to go to sleep, you may have a toddler who is like a ninja, slipping from their crib or bed, and silently appearing at your side. Unfortunately, once they discover how to leave their room, they may continue doing it over and over. Again, you need to be consistent with how you treat this. Try to interact as little as possible, as you turn your little one around and march them back to their room. Continue doing it. Your toddler will learn that you’re not going to play or snuggle with them when it’s bedtime and eventually will remain in their bed.

Baby sleep consultants know that toddler sleep problems can often be the most trying, especially with a physically active toddler. If you find you’re not having any luck getting your little one to remain in bed, I’m happy to help—even if you’re simply looking for a plan and straightforward instructions to get your toddler sleeping again. 

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